Driving under the influence (DUI) suggests that a person operates a vehicle while being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In California, a DUI charge is considered a typical misdemeanor offense. One will be charged with misdemeanor “simple DUI” when facing his/her first, second, or third DUI offense, as long as there are no “aggravating factors”. The aggravating factors for DUI cases include extremely high blood alcohol content reckless driving, excessive speed, driving with suspended license and many more. In some cases, however, “simple” California DUI will be regarded as a felony DUI offense. Here are the cases when a DUI can be considered as a felony in California:
- An act that leads to a DUI charge which causes serious bodily injury or someone’s death
- If the driver has 3 or more DUI charges within a 10 year period
- If the driver has at least one prior felony DUI conviction
Acts that lead to a DUI charge and cause injury or death
The cases that involve serious bodily injuries or someone’s death will result in felony DUI charges. Minor cuts, bruises or scrapes will not make a DUI a felony, yet can result in misdemeanor DUI charges. In order a DUI charge to be considered as a felony, the Prosecutor has to show that the victim was seriously injured as a result of the Defendant’s actions.
3 or more DUI convictions
If one has 3 previous DUI convictions, then the next DUI charge filed within 10 years of the first one will be prosecuted as a felony. The prior DUIs may include convictions for probation violations, driving with suspended license, alcohol or drug-related reckless driving, etc. Alcohol addiction treatment can be regarded as a way to minimize jail time in such multiple-offense DUI cases.
Prior felony DUI conviction
If you already have a previous felony DUI conviction, any other subsequent DUI within 10 years will be charged as a felony.
Even if the current DUI does not involve serious injuries or you have a low BAC (blood alcohol content), you will still be charged with a felony.
Felony DUI punishment in California
In California, the punishment for a felony DUI case mainly depends on such factors as the severity of injuries, nature and cause of the accident, along with the previous DUI experience of the driver. Felony DUI cases may include significant fines and penalties, firmly monitored felony probation, mandatory alcohol treatment classes, rehabilitation programs, installation of Ignition Interlock Device, driving license suspicion. If the DUI has tragic consequences, imprisonment is unavoidable. The sentencing includes from 4 to 10 years in prison or 15 to life if the driver has prior DUI convictions.
In evaluating DUI nature and therefore, deciding the punishment type, hundreds of errors may occur. So, it is necessary to hire a truly skilled DUI attorney who specializes in California DUI laws to provide an effective defense for you. An experienced DUI attorney will obtain all the necessary police reports, test results and protect your rights to get the best possible outcome for your case. The knowledgeable DUI attorneys at the Margarian Law firm have exceptional knowledge and experience in criminal law. If you seek for high quality and affordable representation with the best possible result, do not hesitate to trust your case to skilled DUI attorneys at the Margarian Law firm.